Employee engagement is a buzzword in business today, but what is it really, and how do you get it? Read further to understand why engagement is important and discover some tips on how to boost employee engagement in your company.
Employee engagement is not the same as job satisfaction or retention.
There are multiple benefits that come from employee engagement; one is a financial boost, but the other benefits could be further reaching and long-lasting.
Taking steps to listen to employees and recognize them for their individual contributions is a great way to boost engagement.
All members of management and executive management need to be engaged to prompt other employees to adopt an engagement attitude.
The use of different surveys can help a company measure engagement and determine if there are problems or if they’re doing something very well.
What Is Employee Engagement?
There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding employee engagement as some companies believe it’s all about satisfaction, and others tie it directly to longevity. Engagement is neither, but if you have employee engagement, it can lead to both.
Employee engagement is the level of commitment and the connection an employee has with their workplace or their employer. When employees are engaged, they feel a connection to their jobs and that means what they do is important to the success of the task or the overall business. This perceived sense of value strengthens their connection to the employer.
It’s important to note that engagement is not static; it’s not something that’s achieved and then permanent, and it’s not always within the company’s or the manager’s control.
For instance, someone could be highly engaged in one project that they feel passionate about and not at all engaged in the next one. Or you could have a very engaged employee who is going through a personal crisis, so they’re no longer as vested in their job as they once were.
Benefits of Employee Engagement
The reason employee engagement is such a hot-button topic today is that organizations have found that engagement is directly tied to a company’s financial health and bottom line. A Gallup study looked at the outcomes of positive employee engagement, and when combined, they resulted in a 23% positive difference in profitability.
While a higher profit is nice, it certainly doesn’t tell the whole picture. Engagement goes way beyond your bottom line and includes benefits that are intangible and can lead to the long-lasting success of a brand. These benefits include:
Increase employee retention
Improves customer satisfaction
Elevates company reputation
Raises stakeholder value
Tips for Improving Employee Engagement
If the goal is to boost engagement and reap all the rewards, then these tips will help your company improve employee engagement.
Recognize individuals. When an employee feels like a cog, they don’t care about what they do. When they feel like a valued member of the team and they’re acknowledged for the contributions they specifically make as an individual, they feel important.
Recognition should come in a variety of forms to hit all of the different personality types in your company. Some prefer a compliment, and others want to win a prize. Make sure you have a well-thought-out recognition program for everyone.
Give them the tools they need. No matter what job it is that your employees do, make sure they have the tools they need to do the job well. It’s frustrating when you’re asked to do a task and not given the proper tools.
This doesn’t just apply to physical tools; it often means computer programs and other software, and it can also mean appropriate training and continued coaching or managing.
Listen. This is fundamental to making someone feel valued and encouraging engagement. Everyone has been in a situation where they don’t feel heard, so they simply stop participating. Don’t be that type of business or manager; it’s the fastest way to lose the engagement of your team.
Improve company awareness. Many companies have blinders on when it comes to really seeing what’s happening within their walls. They may believe that all is good and well when in reality, the employees think management is a joke and the company is lying to customers.
Of course, it might not be that glum, but there is often a disconnect between the way management sees their company and the way other employees see it. By improving awareness, you’re instantly more aligned with employees and building bridges.
Adopt an attitude of service. Service projects and other community involvement efforts help workers see their employers as more than just profit-mongers. It also encourages employees to develop relationships with each other.
But this step goes beyond your company and filters into the community, demonstrating that you’re a company that cares and strengthens your reputation among outsiders.
Be social. Social media can be a great way to applaud employees, highlight achievements, connect within and outside of the company, and promote your company culture. Social also applies to what happens in the company and not digitally.
Encourage employees to share their talents, have a chili cookoff, a breakroom art fair, a talent night – whatever works within your company to spotlight the talents of employees that go beyond their professional life.
The Role of Management in Employee Engagement
Each branch of a company’s organizational structure has some role to play in employee engagement. If there is a link in this chain that is not pulling its weight, that can be the one area that makes work unacceptable or unbearable for an employee.
The role of HR in employee engagement. Human resources are often key in hiring decisions in a company and onboarding. It starts right there. Selecting the right employee, giving them the training they need to get set up and started, and managing their needs throughout their employment is critical to their happiness and to a great HR department.
The role of managers in employee engagement. Great managers support and encourage their teams. They don’t run around finding flaws or hiding in an office until it’s time for annual reviews. When a manager treats their position as a coaching job, they tend to be better motivators and have a more engaged workforce.
Much of the heavy lifting when it comes to engagement falls on the shoulders of management. But it should be noted that they can’t boost engagement if they’re not supported by upper management.
The role of upper management or business owners in employee engagement. Seeing the company for what it is and how it’s perceived goes a long way toward understanding the actual culture versus the stated culture. This is where changes for the better happen.
A great boss encourages potential and the positives and looks for ways to remedy hiccups in company structure, process, and customer relations. It’s a big job, and it requires someone who is willing and honest with themselves and puts their faith in their team.
How to Measure Employee Engagement
We all agree employee engagement is great, and everyone wants it. But how do you know if you already have it or where you stand? There are a few different ways to measure employee engagement. By using all of these methods and repeating them with frequency, you’ll have a better understanding of your actual engagement situation.
Employee engagement surveys. Blind surveys are the best as they encourage your staff to be honest about how they feel about their jobs and where the disconnect might be. They’re also a great way to see what you’re doing right.
Lifecycle surveys. These surveys are used throughout the course of an employee’s time with your company. They start with the interview or onboarding process and give you an idea of what that feels like to a new hire.
Then these surveys are repeated regularly. Stay surveys are a great way to check in and see if your employees are looking to stay or what they would need to make them want to stay. Finally, exit surveys are conducted when an employee leaves a company.
This can be some of the most valuable information you get because employees are often willing to be more honest when their paycheck isn’t on the line.
Pulse surveys. A pulse survey is designed to evaluate the here and now. They’re often done when there’s a change happening or about to happen to gauge how the change is affecting employees. Even the most well-planned transition can run into a speed bump, and pulse surveys can help identify problems early so the damage can be mitigated.
Employee Engagement FAQ
If employees stick around for a long time, does that mean that they’re engaged?
No, employee retention is not the same as employee engagement. Imagine a company that pays very well, but the employees feel like they’re just showing up to collect that paycheck. These are not engaged employees, but they may stay there throughout their entire careers because the money is good.
Employee engagement is how vested an employee feels in their job and the company. When engagement happens, retention will naturally be a part of the equation because engaged employees want to stay where they are.
Once you’ve created an engaged workforce, do they stay that way?
No, employee engagement is fluid and always changing. It’s easier to recapture someone’s engagement if they’ve had it once before, but you can and should expect it to change over time. People get bored, they feel overworked, they have personal issues come up, or they simply grow and want something new.
On the flip side, you can see engagement spike as people feel confident in their abilities, as they’re praised and promoted, as they watch their team have successes, and as they connect with others within the company. Engagement is never static.
How do you gauge employee engagement?
Employee engagement can be difficult to gauge, but it’s best done through various surveys. The key to getting a good idea of engagement is eliciting honest information from your employees and evaluating it without bias. Using surveys at different times of an employee’s tenure helps as well as making the most of surveys during companywide change.
Are managers ultimately responsible for employee engagement?
No, managers aren’t the end-all-be-all of employee engagement, but they certainly are important. The entire management team of a company needs to be aware of the importance of employee engagement and be trained in ways to encourage it even before someone is officially hired.
Real engagement comes from all areas of the company, even from co-workers and peers. That said, some people will not be able to connect with their job or the company for whatever reason, and management shouldn’t be blamed for them being in the wrong job or work environment.